Title: It Has Begun (9/?)
Author: Kata
Disclaimer: They don't belong to me!
Rating: PG
Feedback: This is a must! :-)
Distribution: Just ask!

******

Max did the only thing logical in the situation. He punched the wall. He didn't even flinch when his fist made contact with the hard cement. "No! Not Liz! She's *not* a part of this!"

Isabel looked at the others, frightened. None of them had ever seen Max like this. "Max, I don't know if he's actually done anything... maybe I was wrong." The assurence sounded false. Isabel was never wrong. Not when it came to dreamwalking.

"No, you're right. He's nothing but a *coward.* He can't strike at us. He just hurts the ones close to us. Our parents. Liz. They mean nothing to him. Humans mean nothing to him."

"Liz isn't dead," Maria said.

"We don't know that!" Max cried out. "She won't have anything to do with us!"

"I'll call her," Maria suggested quickly. "I'm still her best friend. That should count for something." She grabbed the telephone, and dialed. "Liz?...um...have you seen a guy around town....Howie. Short, long curly hair in a ponytail...stay away from him." Maria looked up. "She hung up." she bit her lip. "She's changed so much. She's not Lizzie anymore." Maria struggled to keep the sob out of her voice.

Michael put his arm around her. "We won't let him get her. She was one of us. We're responsible for her."

Isabel lifted her head out of her hands. "She *is* one of us."

Max shook his head. "But she's not. You heard what Maria said. She's not the Liz we knew. She doesn't want anything to do with us. With me."

Sheriff Valenti's voice broke in. "Liz Parker is still one very lost little girl." Max looked up. "Max, I always made it my responsibilty to look after you. You know that. And when you left, that meant looking after Liz. She never dealt with it. Never. It's like she doesn't even feel things anymore."

Alex nodded. "She wouldn't even talk to Maria and me." he sighed. "I guess Maria and I never got over you guys either, but Liz didn't even try."

"But what can we do?" Tess asked, and then blushed as everyone's gaze turned to her. "I mean... I don't want her hurt, either, but how can we protect her if she won't even tlak to Maria?"

Maria looked thoughtful. "She might listen to you."

Tess looked shocked. "Me? But I... I'm the one who caused all of this."

"No, but that's what Liz thinks. She's still angry at you, after all these years. Sometimes I think that's the only emotion she's felt in the past ten years. It's what keeps her going." Tess flinched, and Maria's voice softened. "I don't hate you, Tess." Tess gave a small smile of thanks. "But Liz does. She'll have to talk to you, if only to let you know how much she hates you."

Alex nodded. "She's right. You might actually get through to her. 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend' after all, right?"

"Wouldn't that be us?" Max asked.

"Max!" Isabel shrieked. "No! She wouldn't turn her back on us. She might not help us, but she won't hurt us, either!"

"I'll talk to her," Tess said, quickly. "I don't know if it'll do any good, but I'll try." She looked around the room. "It's the least I can do."

TBC...

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